Thank you so much to Kristen, an incredible embryologist, who following her own struggles to conceive, is on a mission to provide fertility education, to help ease the confusion and stress that always seems to go hand in hand with an IVF journey
I always knew my job was special. I have always felt extremely lucky to do what I do and to be helping people during what is one of the most stressful times a person/couple can go through. For myself, having periods that never came and being diagnosed with PCOS long before marriage, I knew that the reality for my patients could very well be a reality for myself and that had long been a fear of mine even going back to my teenage years.
I remember starting our first medicated cycle and being so scared that my ovaries were going to puff up like blow fish and I would get sextuplets. I’ve never actually seen this happen in my job, but hey, it happened to Jon and Kate plus 8. I went for my first blood test. Nothing. I went for another test a few days later. Nothing.
I went for another test a few days later, and then a few days after that; nothing. And then my estrogen dropped and my cycle got cancelled – um, what? After everything I knew about IVF, I didn’t know this was possible. I knew IVF cycles get cancelled all the time for various reasons but it never occurred to me that a simple ovulation induction could fail. Cue the hysterics that I now had to wait for my period which I knew could take months. It didn’t, it came a few weeks later and we started round 2. Once again, several blood tests and nothing – another cancelled cycle.
We were due to travel interstate and instead of being excited, I begged my husband to freeze his sperm and go without me so I could have an insemination while he was away in case I ovulated. He looked at me like I was nuts; at this point he was probably right.
My google obsession
My entire life became a cycle of googling what I could do to increase my chances of getting pregnant, what foods I could eat, what supplements could I take.
At this point I should probably point out that I have a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine, yet here I was looking for some magical information more powerful than anything my doctors told me or that I had learnt in my studies – allow me to let you in on a little secret: If such magical advice existed, we would not have to waste our time googling it!! A blood test upon return from interstate revealed I had ovulated while I was away and couldn’t start the fertility drugs until my period came. My period didn’t come. I was pregnant.
The pressure on my relationship with my husband
I am well aware of the fact that my conception journeys are absolutely nothing compared to what most infertility warriors go through. I do like to think it gives me a great appreciation for the stress and obsession that TTC can cause, because I know how much it affected myself and my marriage when our journey wasn’t even that long or complicated. I actually remember one night thinking I should leave my husband when he didn’t want to have sex, the day I was actually due to ovulate. I was so angry that he didn’t appreciate the significance that I was finally ovulating. Do these men not understand how hard it is to get lazy PCOS ovaries to ovulate? So, it really is something that I think of regularly, about how patients are coping and how much it is actually affecting them; because I am well aware that there are so many different ways they could be struggling.
The guilt of being pregnant
I vividly remember being in the lab and being pregnant. My job was suddenly so much more important. I remember being so grateful because I was surrounded by people who couldn’t get what I had. When the time came that I was heavily pregnant, I avoided patient contact out of respect, but there were a couple of times that was unavoidable. Although possibly in my head, i could feel patients staring at me, thinking it was inappropriate to have heavily pregnant Embryologists around people who are struggling to get pregnant. I felt a lot of guilt and I remember thinking, this just isn’t fair and I don’t deserve this when so many of these families can’t get pregnant. I never got any negative comments, but several of my colleagues did when they were pregnant.
Becoming a mother made my job feel even more important
I returned to work after maternity leave. I had an 8 month old baby girl and it was lovely to be back doing what I was doing, knowing I got to go home at the end of the day to my baby. Once again, I felt like my job was so much more important and I knew exactly what these families would be feeling when they finally got pregnant. Every embryo check, freeze and thaw was done with so much care and love like they were my own.
Not long after, we decided to try for baby number 2
Many months of negative cycles ensued and then a weird cycle where my progesterone started rising before it appeared I had even ovulated. My doctor agreed this was abnormal and we would start IVF drugs after my period came. It didn’t come. I was pregnant again. I ended up delivering another healthy baby and again, returned to work with an 8 month old baby and a toddler.
Upon returning to work, now as a mother to 2 healthy babies, my entire job felt different. I can’t even explain it, but it was the start of my calling to help others much more than I could in the lab. Due to my passion of embryology, I had thought many times over the last 5 or so years about starting an IVF instagram or blog. But now was the right time. I Like My Eggs Fertilised was born and so has begun my passion for positive education of the IVF world to help ease confusion and stress.
As I said at the start, I’ve always known my job was special; but being a mother makes my job as an Embryologist a million times more special. I know how it feels to get that positive pregnancy test, to feel a baby grow inside me, the excitement of setting up a nursery and bringing a baby home; and I want this for every single person that I know is trying for a baby.
This journey is not always going to be easy, but I hope that it will be worth it.
Please do follow Kristen for more support and education by clicking here, or by following her on instagram at @ilikemyeggsfertilised